People are always interested in SSDI and what it entails, what it’s like, just generally everything about it. They also have the misinformed idea that it’s a livable amount of money. That it is somehow living on easy street and that it’s permanent. It’s none of those things. This post is going to discuss my decision to apply and the process involved. Future posts will discuss the actual numbers and how one actually LIVES on this sum of money.
In 2006, at age 24, I experienced one of the worst episodes of my life. Things had been progressively getting worse – as they do with chronic and degenerative conditions – but I’d managed to hang on until this point. I’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder I, generalized anxiety disorder, diabetes, and thyroid tumors. There is more, but that’s enough for now. Any more feels like justifying my disability and that is something I have struggled with and am no longer doing.
I was unable to work and/or function outside of a supportive environment. I couldn’t attend school. I stopped going to work. I hadn’t left my apartment for months. My friends constantly worried I had killed myself as I would go through periods of time where I couldn’t comprehend the idea of communicating with another person. There is one person that I know this affected greatly, and to this day I am sorry for the burden she shouldered.
After six months, my dad and brother showed up to find me over 300lbs, and completely nonfunctional. Sick from lack of meds, malnourished from not eating real food, and suffering incredibly emotionally and physically, I was carted back home.
It took over a year to recover from that time of my life. I had not been able to work for nearly two years, and was very fragile. My parents were making minimum payments on my debts and this was a great burden for them. At some point, it came into my head that I might qualify for SSDI or Social Security Disability Insurance. I applied online. The process took about three months for me at which point I was approved. During that time, my file was audited at both the state and federal level. I believe (I cannot prove this) that my claim was approved quickly because of how I approach things. I read the directions and I took my time, but I followed them to the letter. I found my condition, I provided documentation that directly answered the requirements. I have always kept complete copies of my medical records – including doctor’s notes. I was able to provide that information with my application instead of providing it once it was asked for.
SSDI is an insurance program. Every working citizen pays into out out of their paycheck. It’s not welfare. It’s not a program anyone wants to abuse. It is insurance that is supposed to keep you from dying due to poverty. And it does. Just barely. If you have a support system in place to help you. It’s also not permanent. Depending on your condition you may face determinations every 2-7 years. I want you to imagine that every few years you have to face down a board of people who get to decide if you get to keep your home, your medical, and your life. It is completely out of your control. Just based off of me? I’d say that everyone who goes through this likely experiences so much stress that they make themselves sick and worsen their health conditions and quality of life.
When I was granted SSDI I was given $625 a month to live on based on my working income prior to disability and then there was a two year wait to qualify for Medicare.